October 30, 2014

Wausau considers banning cell phones while driving

Wausau is the latest Wisconsin community to consider banning cell phones while driving. Officials say there’s a lot of public support for a ban.

A committee asked the city attorney’s office this week to draft an ordinance for the City Council to consider. The Public Safety panel plans to issue a recommendation next month. Wausau’s suburbs would be asked to pass their own cell-phone bans. Police Chief Jeff Hardel says that’s key, so drivers would not have to guess the boundaries of where cell phone usage could stay legal.

Everest Metro Police Chief Wally Sparks says Schofield and the village-and-town of Weston should all endorse the ban. Sparks’ department serves all three communities, and he tells the Wausau Daily Herald his officers should be able to enforce the law without worrying about what community they’re in.

Marshfield and Wisconsin Rapids are among the places with cell-phone bans, and they allow hands-free usage. Some local officials say it would be best if Wisconsin had a statewide ban, but it has never been seriously considered in the Legislature.